Child Graduating From High School?

Carrie Sue Doxsee, J.D.
5 min readApr 3, 2022


What do you need to do now? Part 1… Protect Your Rights As A Parent!

Joy, Tears, and what comes next to protect your kids after graduation

It’s that time of year… high school graduations. Moms are crying all the time because their kids are moving on to the next chapter and don’t need them like they did when they were little. Dad’s are super proud and glad to see their child moving on (and maybe moving out of the house?)….

You are planning graduations parties, Senior Proms, attending sports banquets, Mother’s Day Tea, and all the activities that come when your child is finishing their high school years. Memories that will last.

But what happens when your child turns 18? How does that impact your rights as a parent?

What happens to your child support?

How should your child deal with college roommates and sharing expenses?

There are multiple legal changes coming and you need to know what to do.

When your child turns 18, your rights to protect your child are forever altered.

While being sad about them not needing you anymore is emotional, the fact that you have no legal rights is downright scary.

Need to find out something from their college? Can’t.

What if something happens to them and you want to help make medical decisions? Can’t.

What if you just want to help with something with their finances? Can’t.

Look, we all know that our kids are not ready to be 100% on their own at 18. So what can you do to keep protecting and guiding them?

Your child needs a Durable Power of Attorney!

3 of our kids are out of high school and over 21 so I totally know what I am talking about here (and being an attorney does not hurt).

One of my sons was a wrestler in college and this same issue came up multiple times.

Every time he needed help with something I got the same story…

I know you are a parent, but because your child is over 18, I can’t provide you with any information.

Worse, my son got hurt wresting and needed a surgery. I was boxed out of his medical decisions.

There is nothing that makes you quite so mad as someone telling you that you don’t have the right to help your own child!

What if it is something really big happens?

One of my son’s fellow wrestling teammates was in a terrible accident and almost didn’t make it. Since he was 18, there were definite complications for his parents who did not have the legal rights to make health care decisions and help with his school and financial issues.

The crazy part is that it is so easy to fix!!!

Your Child needs a Durable Power of Attorney so you can continue to guide them and help with medical decisions.

So why isn’t this something that everyone has on their Graduation To-Do List? (Ok, you are probably thinking… only an attorney would have this on their list, right?)

Getting a Durable Power of Attorney is so easy and much less expensive than you think. But remember… you child must be 18 BEFORE they sign it.

So how do you have this discussion with your child?

Actually, there are tons of things you need to discuss with your child as they are turning 18, so I think you make this one of the sit down conversations.

My advice is that you sneak it in with other financial decisions you are discussing- FASFA, living situations if they are moving to a dorm or apartment, college application stuff, etc.

All this stuff is new to your child (even if it is not your first child to graduate). So assure them that while they are 18 and can make so many of their decisions… they will still want you to be able to help them and take care of things when they ask for help.

Do you know how many times I heard…

Mom, can you do X for me?

Make the conversation about being their “back up” and “go to” if they don’t have time or not sure how to do something.

The whole… “What if you are in an accident?” will sound like you are a parent and being over protective (even if that is exactly what you are doing).

Make the discussion about their convenience and you will have a much better sell.

If you are kind of a bossy parent like I am, you might just tell them they have an appointment at the lawyer’s office — it might work, right?

The problem is that you do want to teach your child to be mindful of the legal consequences of actions (or inactions). So this is a good first start into their education of how to become a well functioning adult.

To me, in the aftermath of COVID, one thing we learned is that you can expect the unexpected. So you should be prepared for it.

That goes for you too…

If you don’t have your Durable Power of Attorney and Last Will and Testament done, you need to put that on your list to do along with your child. Now you just have another selling point for your child- you are getting it done too!

What if I told you that if you live in Missouri, it is so easy to get this done without even going to an attorney?

Someone who is 18 has a very simple estate plan — they name their parents. So do they really need an attorney or do they really need to fill out a form?

For more information on how you can do a simple Durable Power of Attorney and give your student a crash course on how to protect their finances as they move out into the real world, go to

Don’t let someone tell you that you don’t have the right to help your own child! Do the Durable Power of Attorney TODAY!

PS… Not sure where to go to get the document notarized? Just head to your local bank customer service department and they will have a Notary that can help.